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By Joe Kazmar
For the Record 

Kaz's Korner

Texans may not be as lousy as first predicted


Last updated 8/17/2021 at 1:27pm

After a shaky start in which he was intercepted in the red zone, David Mills settled down in front of the announced loud crowd of 72,348 and showed flashes of potential that gave hope that he might become a future starter for a franchise that thought they already had one in Deshaun Watson.

I don't think there was a long, winding stream of football fans waiting eagerly at NRG Stadium Monday morning to buy 2021 season tickets to the Houston Texans upcoming games after their impressive 26-7 exhibition victory over the Green Bay Packers Saturday night at Lambeau Field, but there has to be many who are pleasantly surprised at their performance.

As soon as the Texans hired Nick Caserio away from the New England Patriots and Head Coach Bill Belichick as their new general manager, he made a beeline to see how many veteran starters from around the National Football League he could convince to help build a competitive team in Houston.

He then looked for the perfect head football coach for the Texans that has been around the football world but was never an NFL head coach and came up with David Culley, who has been in the game both on the college level and as an NFL assistant for nearly 40 years.

The next step for the new general manager was to rectify a defense that finished 30th in the league in team defense and dead last in rushing defense and needed a complete overhaul.

He brought in 63-year-old Lovie Smith, a former head coach who led the Chicago Bears to Super Bowl XLI but lost 29-17 to the Indianapolis Colts, as the Texans' defensive coordinator. Lovie loved the 4-3 defense and immediately scrapped the 3-4 Houston had used for many seasons.

Caserio worked day and night and got blisters on his ears from being on the phone with other general managers, but when training camp began late last month, the Houston Texans had 53 new players on the roster, including 46 veterans, with 30 of them having at least five years of NFL experience.

The next big chore for Caserio and Culley was to evaluate the new players and coach them into cohesive offensive and defensive units who quickly familiarized themselves with their other teammates.

And with three preseason games to get ready for the Sept. 12 start of the 2021 NFL season against Jacksonville at NRG Stadium, Caserio and Culley had to figure out how to utilize their players, especially the new ones.

That first test came Saturday night at Green Bay, where the Packers sat out reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers and a few other star players.

Lovie Smith's defense was very mobile and aggressive and caused three turnovers-two fumble recoveries and an interception-after registering only nine turnovers during the entire 2020 season.

The next big question mark for the Texans was at quarterback, where 11-year veteran Tyrod Taylor was replacing Deshaun Watson, who didn't even make the trip to Green Bay as the team's No. 4 signal caller due to an "injury".

Taylor did not disappoint as he showed the coaches and teammates what he's capable of doing as he played only the first series and completed all four of his passes for 40 yards which resulted in the first of four Ka'imi Fairbairn's field goals.

Three of Taylor's four completions were to newcomer Chris Conley at 6-3, 205 pounds who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.35 at his combine and is in his eighth NFL season, but his first with the Texans. Conley also caught a 15-yard pass from rookie David Mills, giving him four receptions for a team-leading 51 yards.

After a shaky start in which he was intercepted in the red zone, Mills settled down in front of the announced loud crowd of 72,348 and showed flashes of potential that gave hope that he might become a future starter for a franchise that thought they already had one in Deshaun Watson.

When the final gun sounded, it was apparent that Houston was the best team on the field that night with 319 total yards to Green Bay's 242 while the defense held the hosting Packers to a meager 49 net yards rushing.

The Texans play their next preseason contest Saturday night against the upstate rival Dallas Cowboys Saturday at AT&T Stadium-the house Jerry Jones build.

The Pokes lost 19-16 last week at Arizona without Dak Prescott to the Cardinals, as his backup Garrett Gilbert handled most of the quarterbacking chores.

KWICKIES...Despite several injuries and illnesses, the Houston Astros maintained their 2 ½-game lead over the Oakland A's in the AL West Division as they traveled to Kansas City for a four-game series against the Royals that began Monday night. Going into this week, the Astros (70-47) were a half-game behind Tampa Bay for the best record in the AL. Outfielder Michael Brantley is leading the major leagues with his .332 batting average, which is the MLB's highest average since 2018 at .314. Closer Ryan Pressly, with 19 saves in 20 chances leads the AL relievers with a .950 conversion average.

Cleveland Indians starter Triston McKenzie retired the first 23 Detroit batters before a two-out single by Harold Castro with two out in the eighth inning ruined his bid for a perfect game, The Indians won the game 11-0 as former Astro Myles Straw went 2-for-4 to raise his batting average to .317.

Like the Texas Aggies, the Texas Longhorns are also having a problem finding a competent starting quarterback as time draws near for the start of the 2021 college football season.

Kevin Kisner made a birdie on the second extra hole to win a record-tying six-man playoff Sunday at the Wyndham Championship. It was the third six-man playoff on the PGA Tour and the first since Robert Allenby won at Riviera in 2001.

JUST BETWEEN US...Former Little Cypress-Mauriceville and North Texas star golfer Lauren Cox began LPGA qualifying school this week among 350 hopeful candidates where they play two courses over four days in Stage I of the school, with the third day being the cut. The courses being played are Mission Hills Country Club at Rancho Mirage, CA. which are Dinah Shore and Pete Dye courses, and Shadow Ridge Golf Club in Palm Desert, CA. Stage II of the qualifying school will be at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla. the week of Oct. 18-24. The Qualifying Series will be Week One Nov. 29-Dec. 5 at Magnolia Grove in Mobile, AL and Week Two Dec. 6-12 at Highland Oaks Golf Club in Dothan, AL. Here's wishing Lauren all the luck in the world.


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